The setting: the beautiful sanctuary of Westminster Presbyterian Church on a toasty warm Sunday afternoon.
The event: the opening concert of the season for the chamber group Moment Musical’s “Sunday Serenade” series.
The bragging rights: Moment Musical usually offers smaller ensembles for its chamber music events. (Indeed, most chamber music calls for small numbers of musicians.) But on this day, the equivalent of a small chamber orchestra is in front of us for a performance of Wagner’s symphonic poem “Siegfried Idyll.” Though chamber music is most often performed without a conductor, in this case Jeffrey Sandersier is doing the honors.
The Wagner performance: Passionate and driving. For fans of the opera “Siegfried,” Wagner took a theme from the “Idyll” and gave it to Brunhilde in the opera. (And just think: You get one of the loveliest bits from the five-hour-plus opera without having to sit that long.)
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Also on the program: Balakirev’s Octet in C minor; and the Granados Quintet in G minor for string quartet and piano. The Granados piece has a brusque yet pleasant feel.
Favorite piece: Piazzolla’s “Five Tangos,” performed by Lianna Stuart on violin and Adam Elmore on string bass, has an amiable vibe. It sounds like something you’d hear accompanying a Pedro Almodovar movie: jaunty and a bit wry. Best of all: the musical chemistry between the musicians.
My thoughts as I listen to the concert: One of the special things about chamber music is the way it so comfortably links us to the past. It’s as if those of us in the audience are direct descendants of those people 150 years ago who would gather on Sunday afternoons to commune with live music. Some of it was performed in great concert halls, yes, but often you could find it in small parish churches or people’s parlors. You didn’t have to be an urban sophisticate to take part. And there were fewer distractions back then: no NFL games, no Netflix, and certainly no iTunes. Just the live music. That’s why “Sunday Serenade” is such a good name for this venerable series.